Microsoft has an important message for Windows Mobile developers: don't worry about hitting the 99 cent price point. This message comes out of a series of developer camps in Redmond where Microsoft is stressing that developers price premium applications based on value, instead of the common standard of the iTunes App Store. Loke Uei of Microsoft's Mobile Developer Team put it bluntly saying "99 cents, come on, I think your app is worth more than that."
Developers are getting ready for the launch of the Windows Marketplace for Mobile this fall. Windows Marketplace does have a series of features which will help the larger priced applications bloom including trial versions and a return policy. One of the complaints to the iTunes store is there is generally no way to try before you buy, except using a second application made by the developer as a totally free edition.
99 cents is a price point that basically created an industry. For all of the garbage available on the iTunes App Store there are real steals as well. Looking at the economics it's estimated Apple has made about $171 million from mobile applications, with total sales in the billions.
Microsoft is not alone in suggesting higher prices for mobile apps. Palm announced earlier this month it wants to make sure the best applications are highlighted, not the cheapest, and is looking into doing things differently. RIM with its BlackBerry App World has a required minimum app price of $2.99 to prevent its store from being cluttered with .99 cent apps, so Microsoft is not definitely not alone. In the end however, without setting a minimum price like RIM, it's all up to developers how they price their apps, so only time will tell.